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Inaugural Pairs Races to Internationals

By Ian Dartley
Posted on October 21, 2023
Inaugural Pairs Races to Internationals

Pairs champions Javier Garcia Ordonez and Jamie Canalejo Pazos of Spain. (Photo by Sullivan Madden)

The Spanish men and Australian women bested crews from USRowing as pairs racing made its official return to the Head of the Charles on Saturday after an absence of 44 years.

In the men’s pairs, the Spanish Rowing Federation was in control throughout the race. Placing first at 16:20.38, Javier Garcia Ordóñez and Jamie Canalejo Pazos won the first invitational pairs race at the Head of the Charles since 1979.

“We are so happy,” Ordóñez said. “It’s our first time at the Regatta, and it is so perfect,” he remarked, as the rain that fell through the afternoon continued. The Olympians found the winding HOCR course every bit as demanding and unpredictable as they had been led to expect.

“The bridge was quite difficult, and the rain added to that,” Ordóñez concluded.

The conditions throughout the day were not forgiving. The rain alternated between light drizzles and heavy downpours, but the water was flat, and Ordóñez and Pazos led at every checkpoint and bested USRowing’s Nicholas Mean and Alex Karwoski by 10 seconds.

Annabelle McIntyre and Jessica Morrison of Row Australia were also unmoved by the elements. The duo were a part of the gold medal coxless four for Australia in the 2020/21 Tokyo Olympics. The pair also led wire to wire and finished 29 seconds ahead of Molly Bruggeman and Kelsey Reelick of the United States. Their winning time was 17:37.17.

“That was so exciting,” McIntyre said. She and Morrison are used to straight-line courses, and the twists and turns and bridges require constant communication and a deep trust between partners.

“I was constantly looking over my shoulder at Jess and doing whatever she said,” McIntyre recalled.

“We all know how the straight-line courses go,” Morrison added. “Being thrown out of our comfort zone was nice.” The pair understood the field of athletes they were up against and kept calm throughout the brutal conditions.

“It’s a competitive event, so just keeping our cool was the goal,” McIntyre stated. As fierce competitors in pairs races, their chances of showing out on a big stage can be far and few in between. “We don’t get many opportunities like this,” she reflected. “We’ve loved this entire event.”

Morrison could not have been happier being surrounded by a competitive field of international athletes.

“We hope to see more international teams here in the future,” Morrison said. “It’s great to be in a regatta with so many different age groups, too.”

“We’re so thankful to be here,” McIntyre noted. “Thank you so much to the Head of the Charles committee for creating this event.”

By Ian Dartley
Posted on October 21, 2023